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Cure - the prequel: Light, strong, modern, and fast

by John Curnow, Global Editor, 22 Dec 2022 23:00 UTC
Cure Marine all-carbon, Custom 70 Express Cruising Cat by Stuart Bloomfield © Cure Marine

Light, strong, modern, and fast. Four adjectives, and they're pretty much the total summation of the Cure Marine Custom 70 you're looking at here. We could stop there, but you know we're not going to, if for no other reason than without this project there probably would be no Cure Marine.

Given the way our piece on the new, production Cure 55 has been gobbled up, and imitated, we thought you may like to see where it all began. So to speak...

Now there may well have been a time when Ian McMahon could have said, "If you can find me, then I'll build you a boat." Those times are definitely now in the past, and the Director of Cure Marine actually has too much on his hands to even contemplate it all as they look to get the new, all-carbon, custom 70-footer completed, crack on with the new 55, and keep an eye on all the sheds springing up around them that are going to house the new and ever-expanding outfit he and Dave Biggar have created.

At any rate, a boat like this does not come into being without an owner. Usually they are passionate, more often than not experienced, and in the case of Allan Larkin, the response would be, categorically. So when the time came, the brief might have been extensive, but it was detailed, and it was all about fulfilling several roles, and not compromising in the way that it did them.

Now a 21-metre cat is a big project in anyone's eyes, and around two years ago the decision to make it happen results in what you see here. "We previously sailed a 50-foot Schionning cat, Attitude, up here in Queensland, which we built from scratch with Andrew Crick in Maryborough about ten years ago. We also ran a 70-foot motor yacht at the same time as a mother ship.

"It gets hot in North Queensland, especially in summer, and air-con is essential. We ran the two boats between Moreton Bay and FNQ for something like seven years, but two boats is a big job. Along the way we also welcomed grandchildren into the clan, so something had to give," explained Larkin.

"We wanted to get back to just the one boat, creating the ultimate vessel that we had in mind. We started looking, but there was simply nothing that ticked all the boxes. Hence we started on some sketches, and now here we are."

Top priorities are stability, as well as speed under both sail and power. Twin 110hp Yanmars should be able to provide enough shove for the 14-tonne (dryship) work of art to achieve 12-15 knots into a 25-knot Sou'easter that is often all too common on that part of the Eastern seaboard of Australia. In case you are wondering, there is also the potential to do up to 30 knots under sail. Giddy up!

Larkin has a seven-knot rule, under which the iron topsail gets deployed, and equally, 200plus nautical mile days might not be to everyone's liking.

"Sure you just want to get there, but a lot of time when you're cruising you've quite often got people on board that are not full-on, white knuckle sailors. So you have to look at their facial expressions, and make sure everybody's comfortable as well. If it does get a bit rough out there, it's also nice to be able to get out of it pretty quickly if needed.

"It's certainly not going to be a full-on racer, not with four en-suite queen cabins, but will definitely be a performance cruiser. We'll do social racing, twilights and so on, as there's a great fraternity out there; a wonderful bunch of people in the multihull scene, and some great mates."

Naturally when you conceive this, and you've been around, you also know you have to park it somewhere, and that was taken care of before settling on the final design. 9 by 21 metres is a decent footprint to cater for, and Manly at the edge of Moreton Bay, on the South side of Brisbane, will be her home.

Building to EU Certification adds dollars and weight, but it means it is to a recognised standard, and not just pieced together. The glass to the saloon has added 500kg on its own, but better that than have a failure at sea. It also does the boat justice, and Larkin is very much about that, as well as the team who have made it all happen.

"We've had the not-so-pleasurable experience of sailing in 50knot winds, and 5metre seas. It's not much fun when you've got two cubic metres of water going over the boat. You lose a windscreen, then you lose your electronics, and you're out in the middle of the Pacific somewhere, or a couple of hundred miles offshore. It's not the place you want to be."

So just where will people be able to see the distinctive vessel with the stealth paintwork? "We've got to get accustomed to her first. We've run a 70-footer before, so we're really looking forward to this new challenge. We've set her up for short-handed sailing, which will suit just my wife and I for those offshore cruises, or we can load her up with a crew of eight if we choose."

"We'll certainly be heading East over the next few years, though the Queensland coast is just magnificent. We've done about 40 trips along the coast over the past 15 years, and I'd just like to put a 1 in front of the 40, to be honest. There are so many little nooks and crannies we haven't discovered, and that's another reason why we went right back to the drawing board with everything.

"When we were running that 70-foot motor yacht and Attitude, you get to consider what is the best boat that sails well, and also cruises well? Draft is important. There's a saying that if you haven't run aground on Moreton Bay, then you haven't really sailed on Moreton Bay."

"Yes we wanted the speed, and the other thing is stability. The Queensland coastline has a number of great moorings, though these can change significantly with the tide. An ebb tide flowing North can offer great protection from the swell, though a changing flood tide heading South can alter that peace very quickly. The beam of these cats just makes such moorings a lot more pleasurable, as opposed to sitting there, rolling all night.

"Up past Yeppoon there are a lot of things not marked at all on the charts, or physically, either. We have a 6.7 metre tender we tow along for cruising, so we have somebody out front zigzagging in front of us and yelling out depths on the radio. We do it probably a bit like Cook did."

They also have a smaller, electric powered craft on board for sneaking ashore with.

At the kind of pace this vessel will do, hydrogeneration very much comes into the discussion, and it also reveals some of the other intended uses. 'Begrudgingly' as Larkin puts it, there is a genset, but also 1.7kW of solar. None the less, six custom-made fridges and freezers plus all the air-con do not run off a set of Eveready D-Cells, but 1000 litres of refrigeration does let you appreciate the point, "I do a few offshore fishing trips with the boys."

Now we see the planned-in versatility come to the fore. A terrific fishing craft, and also a great dive platform, with the latter meaning compressors to fill dive tanks, and it all takes power. There are significant lazarettes aft, and monster sail lockers for'ard for stowage. With the Diesels under the aft bunks, and the saildrives ahead of them, the weight is kept as close to CofG and CofB as possible.

Other niceties come in the form of bow and stern thrusters, which have added a little more weight, and trim elevators on the rudders to control running attitude. So whilst some things may have affected overall performance to a small degree, the usability, safety, and ease of control have remained paramount. The way this boat will be able to fulfil her various roles will be as exciting to see as the way she moves both under sail and power.

Being Australian, and living through some of the conditions our coast offers is imbued into this boat, in probably a very similar way to the resin that has been infused into her very fibres. Significant distances are involved, wherever you go, and naturally you want to get there as quickly as possible to enjoy it all the more, but it is a little like eating crab from the shell. Challenging, but so worthwhile if you are prepared to put in the time.

There's definitely an environmental side to all of this too, and Larkin comments, "We have got reasonably big diesels on board, but we don't want to be spurting out, adding to the carbon issues of the world. So the motors will be used very, very sparingly."

The idea of the multi-purpose vessel is very appealing, and in conversation with Larkin you do get on board, as it were, for it is infectious and captivating, like being told you're going on a wonderful holiday. You know they have probably done some 50,000nm in the last 15 years and there's no letting up. If anything, the arrival of the younglings has spurred the family on to this, with his wife (Michelle), daughter, and son all very much designers/builders/creators in their own rights, and to varying degrees with this project itself.

One for and of the ages comes to mind...

Everything from the cockpit to the way the fishing and diving can be carried out from large platforms, to the stairs being lateral is part of the knowledge built up over time, and the desire to keep doing more. So if the functions of the boat drove the whole thing, more than the change in family make up, it was not blindly so, because things like the three life lines is a tip of the hat to the younglings being on board. Safety is a key component; especially considering the express ride many will take.

A bespoke creature always takes time, and it will be two and a half years of planning, designing, and building once the smart grey weapon gets wet, but Larkin is clear about it all, if itchy, now that it looks the way that it does. "We're just blessed with the boys from Cure Marine - Ian, Sean, Lee and Dave in the background there. We're very, very lucky to have such an experienced team, but also willing to take on the challenges and learn.

"This will be the Cure Custom 70, and I'm sure it'll help to propel their brand as well", said Larkin, highlighting the esteem he holds for them, and also the patron aspect with it, too, as well as being proudly Australian Made.

There's significant headroom below, to highlight the no scrimping aspect to it all, and a one piece 25m rig from Lorima in France, who have also made the unitary forebeam and longeron (slotted components) that now eagerly await a ship to bring them here.

A 162m2 mainsail should give you an idea as to the horsepower involved here, and the sails also are ready and waiting for the project to get splashed so they can be used in careful, considered anger. A comprehensive wardrobe has furling everything out front, much of it continuous line, even an electric winch to deal with them, which should account for easy short-handed work.

From the tip it goes Gennaker, Screecher, Genoa, Performance Jib, Self-tacker, and then storm jib, which says a lot about her being an apparent wind machine. Ben Kelly and the team at North Sails designed these, with America's Cup influence from Casey Smith extending to 3:1 tack lines, as well as Chris 'Ando' Anderson on the rig.

These tack lines are manually controlled, naturally, and adjusted once the halyard locks are on. She'll definitely be able to get going in the light, and then giddy up thereafter. First slab would be in early, me thinks...

Larkin would have spent over a thousand hours on it himself, just going over everything with a fine toothcomb. When he's exploring dive spots up in Papua New Guinea, or out in the Solomon Islands perhaps he will only remember how worthwhile it has all been.

Naval Architecture and Engineering has been done by Stuart Bloomfield, whom Larkin calls 'a genius'. He also feels it will be the highest standard of boat ever built in this sort of category, and early inspections would back that up. Many will remember Raw Nerve, the powerful ocean racing cat Bloomfield penned, as well as Raw to the Core.

Bloomfield added, "The all-carbon aspect was to keep the weight down, as 'a fast cruising boat' was the overarching brief, and 30 knots or high twenties speaks to that. It will be pretty exciting, but also quite stable, and controllable. The hull shape is similar to that I've used on a few other boats, and they all have really good handling characteristics."

Angelo Finocchiaro had worked closely with Stuart previously, and gave the exterior its styling, as well as setting the interior up to the customer's requirements. "Being experienced boating people, they knew exactly what they wanted. The exterior was about being modern, but not too complicated. So as you can see, there are no complicated lines, and we went for a chiselled look, with a little bit of a stealthy feeling about it."

"We prepared the layout and styling of the interior to have a strong look on the finishes. Sizes and locations of appliances were relatively easy, given their input. A lot of the construction is made of composites, but all the thin veneers give a really natural look. So there is a combination of the tech construction, with a more natural feeling inside."

Bloomfield added, "The low, straight sheer presented some challenges with the interior. Normally I'd like to have it a bit higher, but we have managed to get full headroom on the stairs into the hulls, and then also when you're in them too."

Ian McMahon is definitely the quiet achiever when it comes to boat building, and the list of over 20 builds includes many a fine, fast craft, such as Zero. Even when he took a break from it all, the owners kept tapping him on the shoulder.

They started on the Cure Custom 70 early in 2021, and built it all up as the drawings slowly came in from Stu. Originally three team members, there are now 15 on the job.

Allowing himself the opportunity to look at it holistically, McMahon stated, "She's pretty much looking like the real deal at the moment. Painting will begin in mid-January, and we'll give her a pre-cook over the Christmas break. All the fit out is CNC and been tested in situ, and then upholstered a bit later. The bathrooms need to be painted, but just at the moment we're making sure she's finished outside before the 60/65 degree Celsius cook up."

"We'll be finished by mid-2023, and with the grey paint she'll be pretty slick." As for being on weight, McMahon expects 14 tonnes dryship, saying, "Yes, definitely. We are pretty stringent on the exact layout required and infusion just puts it down exactly. We also measure our panels every time, and they're right on."

Cure is also building the fancy rudders with the ram driven 1.5m or so wide foils on the bottom. "The straight daggerboards are completed and have full bearings top and bottom, to make it easier to lift up and down, and power winches will aid this."

"We've had a few changes to the windscreen to help with weight, so that we can reduce the thickness. We'll finish fairing and then the undercoating can begin in mid-January. Once all the painting is done we'll make a start on the Flexiteek."

Like many a company now, finding staff can be a problem, so McMahon is certainly pleased that they have been able to secure top talent. Word of mouth has been really good to us. "The highly skilled guys are able to pass on their knowledge to the other members, and it's turned into quite a good team. We are fortunate that we are only building boats that fit into our Cure Marine ethos and styling.

"We want to build using our methods, our technology and our take on clean looks and styling. So long as they pass those criterion, we'll build you a boat."

To round us out, or is that actually more like chisel, Lee Randall, the Business Development Manager at Cure Marine said, "Starting a production brand is always challenging, but to have the technological and production foundation that is present at Cure Marine definitely makes the process easier.

"The current build of the first all-carbon custom catamaran to be constructed in Australia in the last five years is an amazing testament and demonstration of ability that is represented by Cure Marine. It's incredibly exciting to be involved in a yachting project that really brings together the best of the best in the marine sector including Lorima, Profurl, North Sails, and of course Cure Marine."

"The owner really didn't hold back, and every process and component has been subjected to a rigorous selection criterion. I can't wait to see the look on his face when we sheet the sails on for the first time!"

As for me, well, I'm tipping other custom projects will appear from Cure Marine once this gem is out and floating.

Well there it is. Firstly, Season's Greetings to you and all the people you care about. Secondly, thanks for making it to the end here, a super cold beer by the pool, or hot toddy by the fire, depending on which hemisphere you're in awaits you. Just like George Lucas, we thank you, and merchandise is available in the foyer on the way out.

Finally, see you in 2023, and stay well, safe, and happy.

John Curnow
Global Editor,

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